Links 2/18/11

Koalas bellow to attract a mate BBC

Researchers: 100 Percent Green Energy Possible By 2050 Green Car Reports

In a Field of Reason, Lawyers Woo Luck Too New York Times

China Agritech: more miracles in the plant John Hempton

Protests Swell at Bahrain Funerals Wall Street Journal

Bahrain killings bring Mid-East turmoil to epicentre of world oil supply Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

The Solution in Afghanistan: Get Out Washington Post (hat tip Mark Thoma)

Egyptians Say Military Discourages an Open Economy New York Times. This positioning bothers me. It’s correct to say “Military Determined to Maintain Its Control Over Egyptian Economy” and discuss in a pragmatic manner what the (bad) ramifications are. But putting the alternative as not very clearly articulated “openness” is a false dichotomy. Remember, economic “opening” Pinochet and Yeltsin style led to plutocratic land grabs.

F-35 jet a waste of taxpayers’ dollars, say McCain, Gates Christian Science Monitor

Is The Revolt Spreading to America? George Washington. Contrast this with the fact that Rumsfeld engaged in a lengthy discussion with McGovern.

Live Reporting from the Wisconsin Protest PRWatch. This is a good way to keep current on what is happening in Wisconsin. Im old enough to remember Madison being one of the hotspots of anti-war protests in the 1960s.

Yes, Rep. Mike Kelly, if you shut down government, Social Security checks don’t get sent Daily Kos (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Inflation rate signals likely QE2 freeze Financial Times

Cotton prices hit record as mills scramble Financial Times

G20 meeting urged to act on food price inflation BBC

Confirmed: Our Government Has Criminalized Beauty Products Marcy Wheeler

The Gender Pay Gap by Industry New York Times

Wall Street Justice Means Nobody Gets Pinched: Jonathan Weil Bloomberg (hat tip Conscience of a Conservative). From last week, but I missed it and maybe you did too.

Belief Heterogeneity Rajiv Sethi

Looks Like Banks Lose on Risk Plea Floyd Norris, New York Times

Banks Find Loophole on Capital Rule Wall Street Journal

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-02-17 at 12.17.20 PM

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  1. AndyC

    Caveat emptor in regards to China Agritech

    Questions are popping up as to whether some of these companies actually even exist.

    Recently, Carlyle Group was taken for a ride to the tune of 100 million on a Chinese company that turned out to be nonexistent.

    Short interest in CAGC is 30% of the float.

    In disclosure I have no position but I’ve seen several stories about these companies i the last several days.

      1. Wild Bill

        Bogus Chinese companies listed on US exchanges. Sorry, I should have hit the reply button to the above post. But I see below me there is a comment on the MERs decision. Zero was all over that a few days ago too. I’m not a flac, just passing on info. Yves really made me mad a few days ago when she said she doesn’t read Zero Hedge because she doesn’t like his economics and he posts stuff that doesn’t come true. Well, I’ve never seen a discussion here on foreign currencies or POMO, for example. Zero comes from the trading perspective, and it’s very important to recognize whether you are in a trading environment or an investment environment. Which do you think we’re in?

        1. Cedric Regula

          ZH reads like a cross between the Wall Street Journal and the Onion, so its very definitely a trading environment. You just need to know where you are when reading it.

          But it does post a lot of good stuff that is difficult to get for the rest of us with no expensive access to a bloomberg terminal or hedge fund newsletters.

          Plus everyone thinks Tyler is more than one guy posting under that screen name.

          Good blogs fill a niche in the infosphere, so I’m glad ZH is around.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Wild Bill,

          You are misquoting what I said. ZH regularly posts stuff on the credit markets and the Fed, and sometimes on real estate that is flat out WRONG. They never issue corrections or revise their posts. And I’ve had numerous readers tell me they also delete comments of experts who point out where their posts are incorrect, so you can’t use comments as a check on what they have written. They don’t care about accuracy, only about making noise.

          For instance, they don’t even know how to track the impact of POMO correctly. You can’t look at single POMO actions and conclude anything. There is a very specific process you need to go through (I don’t do it but I could, it isn’t analytically difficult but it is painstaking and I pointed to a site then that did it correctly). I wrote about that maybe three years ago and gave up on them.

  2. rjs

    “Im old enough to remember Madison being one of the hotspots of anti-war protests in the 1960s.”

    yep. & that’s why wisconsin is so important. if the left cant hold wisconsin, the rest of the country is toast…

    1. KFritz

      ?Hold Wisconsin? The state has a Republican governor & legislature. It just turned out Russ Feingold, former #1 mensch in the US Senate. The Dems are currently & desperately trying to maintain and ‘hold on’ to some vestige of human decency in the state’s public policies.

  3. Steve Roberts

    It’s not exactly true that Social Security and Medicaid / Medicare payments weren’t made during the government shut-downs. Clinton made it a point that those services continued to almost everyone. A small minority of benefits checks were delayed but only slightly. Even the article you post links to “proof” but their links don’t actually say that. Just because you agree with Propaganda doesn’t make it a fact.

  4. Paul Tioxon

    From the NYT piece on the Egyptian military and their business holding.

    ““Protecting its businesses from scrutiny and accountability is a red line the military will draw,” said Robert Springborg, an expert on Egypt’s military at the Naval Postgraduate School. “And that means there can be no meaningful civilian oversight.” ”

    This from the Pentagon Black Budget people, the untouchable budget that dare not speak the name “How much is this gonna cost us”.

    1. aet

      Mr Springborg’s comment retains its truth where “China” is substituted for “Egypt”.

      As Mao said, power comes from the barrel of a gun.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Adam Rainer – when he was 18, he stood 4’6″ and when he died, in 1950, he measured 7’1″, only man I am aware of who started out as a dwarf and went on to become a giant.

        Name people you know who was a giant once but turned into a dwarf later:

        1. Mao?

        2. Greenspan?

        3. Barak of Mu?

        4. Robert Rubin?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Maybe I should take Greenspan off that list – he might have been a midget all his life.

          1. Paul Repstock

            Well…if you feel compelled to take weeniegreenie off the list you might consider substituting -barak of ob-. His stature appears to be diminishing, but that may be an optical illusion caused by the errosion of the moral ground he stands upon??

  5. Cedric Regula


    Finally, a link I know something about!

    “Researchers: 100 Percent Green Energy Possible By 2050 Green Car Reports”

    Firstly, kudos to the Green Car Reports’ authors for using the word “possible” rather than the much different word “probable” in the article title.

    They go on later in the text with signaling their competency shortcomings when it comes to evaluating the quality of information in the study they base their article on.

    “Is it real? We’re not capable of assessing the paper, which you can read here.”

    I feel your pain[empathy]. But I’m glad someone besides me thinks this is complicated. This is further complicated by the fact that facts are extremely hard to come by, and an enormous number of them are needed in order to even begin thinking about this issue of how to save the world.

    On reading the report they reference entitled

    “Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part I:
    Technologies, energy resources, quantities and areas of infrastructure,
    and materials”

    my input is it matches up surprisingly well with memory cells in my noggin. The way I filled mine was to study the issue as much as anyone, without a boss and the associated paycheck to threaten me with, could reasonably be expected to do. Before then I had some formal study way back in college (post Arab Oil Embargo), and also quite a few years in the working world participating in industries that are in the energy conversion biz one way or the other.

    For anyone that does not wish to do it the way I did, read the report.

    Also note the report is “Part 1”. I won’t try and spoil the ending, but they intend to cover the hard parts in “Part 2”.

    1. Cedric Regula


      “Part 3” is when they feed the data into IBM’s Jeopardy Computer and ask it to balance energy supply and demand and optimize both cost and efficacy of social need and benefit.

      Whenever I start thinkling about this part, I decide to catch up on my other reading.

      1. Paul Repstock

        I sadly fear that the entire green enrgy discusion is moot. The point is to maintain the status quo. Green Energy only becomes viable if the wind and the sunlight can be both “owned” and taxed. I know this sounds insane, but consider the implications to our society if large amounts of common people were not dependant on the existing power strucure.

        1. Cedric Regula

          I re-read Part 1 more slowly and discovered Part 2 is complete already. I clicked on the link in the pdf and discovered the link doesn’t work, nor do any of the links work to the referenced reports in this study. I hate when that happens.

          But I did go thru the trouble of a google and found Part 2 here.

          Here they exclude everything else from the study (nukes,NG, coal w/sequestering) and focus on wind, water and solar(WWS) as the 100% global solution.

          They give a little effort to explaining how 24hr and 24X7 load demand may be matched to intermittant power. A little attention how to get possibly steady wind power to where the users are.

          They give some cost estimates for WWS, which for me has been devilishly difficult to find.

          They seem to place the most faith in windpower, so Holland has been right all these centuries, and for some unknown reason T. Boone Pickens, an early proponent of windpower, just hugely scaled back on his big windfarm he was planning to build. Germany picked up where Holland left off, but I hear now they think they need nuclear.

          This is the most detailed and concise report I’ve been able to find on how they think WWS is supposed to work, but I wouldn’t call this path a 100% slam dunk.

          Oh, and BTW we will use cap&trade to let EMH markets figure out what I thought we would model on the IBM Jeopardy Computer. But first someone needs to set up the rules….

    2. charles 2

      It is too bad that “Green Car Report” ruled themselves as not competent enough to judge if the “plan” was realistic enough, and that they forgot to link to the part 2 of the study. They would have find out that the “cheap” source of energy storage was going to be used car batteries or Vehicle to Grid storage. Essentially, car owners will be supposed to pay big bucks for the battery ( currently a cool 9000 $ for a Leaf battery), but not use their battery pack too much (10,000 miles per year for 10 years, commercial drivers will appreciate…) and be kind enough to sell it back to utilities @ only 10 or 20% residual value when there is still 80% capacity available.

      If you want to judge by yourself here are the links :

      Be careful though, it looks like an objective scholarly paper, but if your scratch the surface, it is a pro wind/solar anti-nuke pamphlet. I will give you two examples :
      – The authors rightly point that, though there are limited reserves of lithium (for batteries) in the ground, there is amply enough resources in seawater. Yet, they omit to mention that the same is true for Uranium.
      – The authors claim that during the long building time of Nuclear Power Plant, electricity must be generated using carbon intensive technology, thus negating the “carbon free” credential of NPP; but forget to mention that Wind and Solar capacity that are built today must be paired with Gas-fired plants for load-following. Even if their vehicle/vehicle-old-batteries to grid was realistic, it would take at least twenty years to get the appropriate fleet. France demonstrated that one can switch to a mix of nukes and hydro in 15 years at an affordable price,

      Go and see David Mackay’s work if you want to read a self contained and consistent document about energy transition scenarios.

        1. Cedric Regula

          Just checked out David Mackay and am downloading that too. Life keeps getting simpler with every passing day.

  6. okie farmer

    I liked the picture of the cow. She’s heavy pregnant, thirsty for water, and in extreme danger. She’s standing on a frozen body of water, lake or river, at high altitude, and has a good chance to die. Ice on her back means she’s not got enough caloric intake to heat her body enough to melt the ice. Still, she looks tough and the sun is out. If she could melt her tail loose from her back, she could whisk quite a bit of the ice off.

    1. Cedric Regula

      hehe. I’ve always wondered what would happen if a fiscal conservative ever set foot within Madison, WI city limits.

      In ancient times private sector workers around the state would take the underground railroad to Illinois and escape to freedom, but that avenue is now blocked I hear.

  7. craazyman

    I really didn’t want to have to be the one to mention the koala bellow. I usually just like to respond to comments on these sorts of things, not make a big grandstand with my own lead comment.

    But it’s not just koalas. I remember once sitting in a diner-style nightclub on the westside with a few pitchers of beer, surrounded by off off Broadway theater types (this is when I was a real boho) and this dude we were with started bellowing. He was a New York dude type with a curly afro style hair. I think he was Greek or Jewish, but who cares.

    He bellowed so loud you could hear him above the sound system. He bellowed about 5 times. For some reason I think the women were sort of turned on by the display of virility and dionysian abandon. I just looked at him funny and slammed down a few beers while he was bellowing with that grin on his face.

    They laugh at me when I say DNA is a radio. That’s OK. I’ll have the last laugh when we all get to the big bright midnight and look back on it all. But I won’t bellow then, either. I’ll just smile. :)

    1. Cedric Regula

      I don’t like to be the first to broach these dicey issues either, but you are right about humans bellowing, and since you started, I guess I’ll add it happens in other entertainment clubs elsewhere around the country.

      A long time ago I knew one of the owners of Chippendales in LA and he indicated females did it as well.

      I haven’t yet got to the point of realizing that DNA is a radio, as I am still trying to catch up in my studies of social science and at this point still trying to fully grasp the implications of Darwinism.

      So far I’ve learned that rolling up a dollar bill, sticking it in your mouth, and remaining seated yields much, much better results than bellowing.

      Just say’n.

      1. aet

        Well, as far as “Darwin” goes, try to h keep the natural selection apart from the sexual selection.

        They don’t always walk together, you see.

  8. DH

    Can someone explain the arrests in Wisconsin???

    What is the crime and what right does the state have to arrest a person for not attending a meeting? This is new to me; guess I’ll go for a walk and find out what this all means.

    ==> In the meantime:

    Sen.: Wisconsin Dems to stay away for days, weeks

    “The lawmakers were concerned that police could have detained them, even though the Wisconsin Constitution prohibits the arrest of state lawmakers while the Legislature is in session, except in cases of felonies, breaches of the peace or treason.

    The Wisconsin walkout was similar to a 2003 move by Texas Democrats who were outnumbered by Republicans in a battle over congressional redistricting. The group got on a bus and fled for the Oklahoma border.

    Work in the Texas House was halted for a week, and GOP leaders asked state troopers to find and arrest the 52 absent lawmakers. It was the beginning of a bitter partisan confrontation that dragged on for months. Later that summer, a group of Senate Democrats fled to Albuquerque, N.M., for more than a month.

    In the end, the walkouts only delayed the redistricting plan, which eventually passed and helped give the GOP more seats in Congress.

    Still, organizers of the walkout say it was worth it.

    “It was the toughest thing I’ve ever done politically,” said Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, chairwoman of the Democratic caucus in the Texas Senate. “It was not something we wanted to do. It was the last thing we could do to protect minority voting rights.” “

  9. DH_old news

    Democrats did what they had to do

    Democrats are angry that DeLay egged on his home-state lawmakers to dupe the Department of Homeland Security into intervening in a redistricting squabble. DeLay’s precise role in the plot to abuse federal resources is unclear, but he said he found using government officials to track down missing Democrats totally appropriate. He told reporters that “bringing in either U.S. marshals or FBI agents is justified because redistricting is a federal issue.”

  10. T11

    Texas Eleven

    Eleven Democrats left the state to avoid being forced to return to the Senate by Texas Rangers, going to Oklahoma and New Mexico to be out of reach of Texas authorities. After successfully preventing a quorum for an entire 30-day special session of the legislature, Senator John Whitmire left New Mexico and returned to Texas. The remaining ten Senate Democrats (often referred to as the “Texas Eleven Minus One: following Whitmire’s departure), stayed in Albuquerque for several more days but returned to Austin and the Texas Senate after Whitmire’s presence on the Senate floor created the quorum needed for the Senate to meet.

    Texas political advisor Harold Cook helped organize the quorum break. Cook served as the group’s primary spokesman, and stayed with the senators for the duration of their time in New Mexico.

  11. Yah, more stuff



    The tactic of quorum-busting—causing a quorum to be prevented from meeting—has been used in legislative bodies by minorities seeking to block the adoption of some measure they oppose. Rules to discourage quorum-busting have been adopted by legislative bodies, such as the call of the house, outlined above.

    A prominent example of quorum-busting occurred during the 2003 Texas redistricting, in which the majority Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives sought to carry out a controversial mid-decade congressional redistricting bills which would have favored Republicans by displacing five Democratic U.S. Representatives from Texas (the “Texas Five”) from their districts. The House Democrats, certain of defeat if a quorum were present, took a plane to the neighboring state of Oklahoma to prevent a quorum from being present (and thus the passage of the bill). The group gained the nickname “the Killer Ds.”

    Similarly, the minority Democrats in the Texas Legislature’s upper chamber, the Texas Senate, fled to New Mexico to prevent a quorum of the Senate to prevent a redistricting bill from being considered during a special session. The “Texas Eleven” stayed in New Mexico for 46 days before John Whitmire returned to Texas, creating a quorum. Because there was now no point in staying in New Mexico, the remaining ten members of the Texas Eleven returned to Texas to vote in opposition to the bill.

  12. Cedric Regula

    Oh well. Back to boring stuff.

    Found the FCIC William Black interview released here:

    I’ll never understand why he let himself be captured by the MMT Gang, since he actually has extensive banking regulation experiance and seems to be worried about other things besides which came first – banks loans or bank funding, but I suggest that we don’t hold that against him.

    This is long and I only starting listening to it, but it does have content and it is in English. Surprisingly, it seems to do with massive bank fraud.

  13. ditto

    Can a bunch of Wisconsin Democratic senators stop a bill by refusing to show up for the vote?

    “The chief clerk shall immediately call the roll of the members, and note the absentees, whose names shall be read, and entered upon the journal in such manner as to show who are absent with leave and who are absent without leave. The chief clerk shall furnish the sergeant at arms with a list of those who are absent without leave, and the sergeant at arms shall forthwith proceed to find and bring in such absentees.”

  14. Whoa

    Whoa, whoa, who .. what about Obama? I thought Obama was never around during votes… how does that work?

  15. Sundog

    This article by Robert Haddick of Small Wars Journal raises all the right questions about US national security policy. It ain’t just Mexico, folks.

    [Robert Bunker] also seems to have a lingering fear that the fifth paradigm and the worst-case scenario — some new form of sophisticated, transnational, criminal-military organization — may yet predominate. It is this scenario that neither the Mexican nor U.S. governments seem prepared to contemplate.

    1. Paul Repstock

      No doubt these fears are well founded. And also, no doubt that modern governments are all infiltrated and corrupted.

      Stupid greedy fools! Having a lion on a string only means that the lion is close, not that you don’t have to feed it. The symbiotic relationship between government and organized crime is scacely less well hidden than their connection to the corrupt parts of the corporate world.

      In both cases the existence of government provides a veneer of civilization. This is where the real incomes of government comes from, not the paltry $200k per annum for ‘public service’.

      Governments have no more interest in shutting down organized crime than they have in taming Wall Street. Besides, if any government ever had the guts to decriminalize drugs (thereby gutting organized crime), they would probably be massacred.

  16. Paul Repstock

    There is alays another side to a story. I usually tend to immediatly land on the side of anything opposed to heavy handed government. In the comments side of the Wisconsin story is one such, other side:
    “…-Taxpayer funding of state employee healthcare benefits has increased over 100% in ten years. Taxpayers paid out more than $1 billion dollars in 2011. State employees paid $64 million – 5.6% of the total cost. In my fair city the teachers enjoy not one but 2 healthcare plans.

    -Since 2000 we, the people, have paid in over $13 Billion to the pensions of our poor state workers. They have contributed 0.8% – $8 million. They are immediately vested upon initial employment.

    -25 cents of every dollar being dumped into our epic failure of a grade school system goes toward employee fringe benefits.

    What does Walker want to do? – make them pay 6% of their retirement and 13% of their healthcare – which still comes out to less than half what the average non state employee pays in. So much for equality….”

    I have little doubt that Governor Walker is exploiting the situation for his own ends and profit. However, when there is no middle ground and everyone is unscrupulous in promoting their own benifits, “Divide and Conquer” is sooo easy.

  17. Max424

    John Hempton: “[China Agritech] is proof that the US cannot possibly compete with the Chinese in any total factor productivity sense.”

    I’m not sure what that means exactly, but I know one thing, China has no interest in forging ahead of the US in the productivity realm ( certainly not yet). Right now, China has bigger fish to fry.

    China has exponential needs, and in order to fulfill those needs, China must develop and stick to a Grand Strategy of Combined Elements. There is no time for wasted and limited tactical thinking in China.*

    China has a fiat currency. China has state oil and mining companies backed by state run banks. China has a $3 trillion cash reserve. These elements must be cultivated and coordinated; they must be made to operate in continuous harmonious fashion if China is to survive.

    Now, let’s see, how is the US doing? Well, we have no elements to combine or not combine; which means, we can make no plans, and we can formulate, no strategy, grand or otherwise. We are a rudderless ship. We are utterly helpless.

    The ONLY way to avoid taking on a completely submissive posture in the future, is to threaten to lash out like a demented animal.

    I suppose this is a kind of strategy, in the narrowest sense — The Strategy of the Mad Dog.

    * Do you think Alexander the Great spent sleepless nights, in the Cilician Gates, pondering the fate of roadside chickens trampled under the wheels Darius’ wagon train?

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